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Social Creature: Staying connected in Europe

Smartphones at the ready — European cities are coming up with all sorts of inventive ways to keep travellers connected

By Josephine Price
Published 27 Aug 2017, 09:00 BST, Updated 12 Jul 2021, 10:43 BST
Snapbot in Barcelona

Snapbot in Barcelona

Photograph by Snapchat

Snap happy
It's no wonder Snapbots are springing up everywhere — 166 million people use Snapchat daily. These fluoro yellow vending machines are landing in European cities to bring you Snapchat Spectacles. Don the yellow shades — Snapchat's first foray into hardware — and film hands-free as you travel. Your videos are then transferred wirelessly to the smartphone app. Snapbots have just landed in Berlin, London, Barcelona and Venice this summer and are making their way across Europe, with locations announced 24 hours before launch at

Branching out
Imagine a world where there's a charger nearby and you don't have to ask for a wi-fi password… VTree's 'solar trees' offer free wi-fi and a charging station for gadgets and electric vehicles. The branches also collect solar energy to power streetlights. Currently 'planted' in Lisbon, Braga, Bucharest and Cluj, there are plans afoot for trees to sprout in Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the UK. Public wi-fi can come with a security risk, so set up a VPN to protect against unwanted data intruders. 

Roam free
On 15 June, roaming charges across 28 European Union countries were blissfully abolished.

Go further with Augmented Reality


Using AR technology, get routes, maps and GPS wherever you are. Skyline identifies what you can see. Free. iOS and Android. 

Google Translate
Google to the rescue — open the app, hover it over a menu and watch it translate before your eyes. Free. iOS and Android.

flightaware – Flight Tracker
Check out what's criss-crossing the sky above you in real time.Free. iOS and Android.

Star Walk 2
Look up, point your phone and discover stars, moons, meteor showers, and dwarf planets. RRP: £2.29. iOS and Android.

Hold your phone up to landmarks like UNESCO World Heritage Sites to discover information. Free. iOS and Android.

Scan your face to start a unique profile, where you can share everything from a song to your mood. Free. iOS and Android.

Follow @_JosephinePrice

Published in the September 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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